Can Pasil market ban sale of dynamited fish?

By Marian Z. Codilla |October 30,2015 - 02:54 AM

More than 24,000 people have signed a week-old online petition to stop dynamite fishing after a grieving mother in Cebu called on the government to ensure that public  and private markets  sell only “dynamite-free fish.”

Lorna Coyoca took the step after her 33-year-old son Al Bernard, a professional diver and father of seven, was killed underwater by an explosive while diving  alone in Daanbantayan town, north Cebu.

She will be part of a roundtable discussion at 9 a.m. to noon today in Cebu City Hall to discuss how to pursue the campaign, which first appeared in the website change.org.  As of last night, 24,366 persons had signed support online.

One proposal to ban illegally caught fish in Pasil Fish Market in Cebu City  will be discussed.

Among those who will participate in the forum are Cebu City Councilor Nida Cabrera, Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro, Ernesto Rama as chairman of the Bantay Dagat Commission, and Vince Cinches, ocean advocate of Greenpeace.

“My son had gone on a bonding trip with his dad to a beautiful seaside town and was on an early-morning dive when dynamite used for fishing exploded and killed him. Words cannot express my grief. And I will never understand why he was taken from us this way,” said the mother in the online petition.

“Please join me in calling on the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to certify all public markets and grocery stores that are willing to declare their produce “dynamite-free.” If we don’t address this problem in the markets, we’re allowing this violence against the sea to persist. For love of my son, we cannot allow it to go on.”

Coyoca’s body was found floating and bloodied last September 30 in the waters off Daanbantayan town.  An autopsy confirmed that he died of internal injuries caused by an explosion, and not drowning.

Dynamite fishing is illegal in the Philippines but continues in almost all coastal villages of Cebu despite accidental explosions that injure mostly small fishermen and cause damage to reefs.

A backyard industry of manufacturing blasting caps has long operated in Talisay City and neighboring southern towns.

“Al Bernard was a lover of the ocean. He talked of dive sites he’d visited where the coral was decimated, gray and lifeless because of illegal fishing practices. When we buried him, we promised to do everything we could to help eradicate dynamite fishing, for the good of all,” wrote his mother.

“If we also address markets and seafood suppliers, we stand a better chance of eradicating this problem once and for all. Our markets have no standard policies in place to ensure that their fish products are dynamite-free. And so, in honor of my kind and dedicated son, I dare all the biggest public and private markets in Cebu and Metro Manila to declare their fish dynamite-free.”

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